Movie Diary 12/28/2021

Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen, 2021). Strangers on a train, in the form of a Finnish archaeology student (Seidi Haarla) on her way from Moscow to Murmansk, and a boorish young Russian man (Yuriy Borisov) who shares her sleeping compartment. The film is distinctive and thoughtful, with a nice sense of how to sidestep audience expectations. The two actors are terrific, creating people who have little in common beyond being outsiders in some basic way.

Where Danger Lives (John Farrow, 1950). Weird noir concept with a seductress (Faith Domergue) and the chump doctor (Robert Mitchum) who falls for her, on the run after a murder – the weirdness coming from the fact that Mitchum gets donked on the melon during the fracas and spends the last half of the picture with a concussion. Maybe it sounded good on paper? Leo Rosten (who wrote the novel Captain Newman, M.D.) supplied the story, Charles Bennett (whose name is on many key early Hitchcocks) did the screenplay, which has some decent one-liners. The photography by Nick Musuraca is dandy. Before he meets Domergue, Dr. Mitchum is betrothed to virginal nurse Maureen O’Sullivan, and there is something screwy about a director who casts his wife as the dowdy, frumpy “good girl” in this scenario (she plays a couple of scenes with a mask over her face). One interesting thing at play here is the vision of the America that exists when people drop out: teeming with braying used-car salesmen and corrupt officials and chiseling pawnbrokers.

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